Well – sayonara Fiji, hello Oz! We are off shortly to the Nadi airport for our afternoon flight to Sydney. Although we have mostly enoyed our time here in Fiji, the weather has not been great and, since we’re meant to be following the sun, and there’s no sun here at the moment, we’re happy to get on our steel horse and fly away. When we were researching this trip, the various articles we read online all said that Fiji’s rainy season doesn’t start until November. New Flash – it starts mid-September and goes until mid-April, according to the locals to whom we’ve spoken. The last couple of days have started out promising – with sunshine beckoning us at 6 am, but by noon the clouds have descended and the torrential rains come back.
Two days ago, we decided that we’d head out on the bus to check out Denarau, a “man-made” tourist island about 10 km outside of Nadi. This place has been carved out of the extensive mangrove fields and is home to a pier, with shopping, dining, a marina and boats to the off-shore islands, a golf course, several expensive resorts, and canals with large and expensive homes, complete with boat docks and boats out front. It represents a stark contrast to the down-scale Nadi town, from which all the workers take a bus out to their jobs. Denarau pier reminded us of Steveston, a similar kind of layout with fish restaurants and coffee and souvenir shops. This day the action was pretty quiet, since it was rainy.
Yesterday, in the morning sun, we grabbed the local Khan bus, whose driver was texting as he drove (aarrggh), and headed 6.5 km north of Raffles Gateway Hotel to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Founded in 1977 by the 70s actor Raymond Burr, he of Ironsides and Perry Mason fame (remember them?), to house his own orchid collection, the garden has been expanded to contain Fiji’s largest collection of orchids and other exotic plant species. We meandered through the garden along scenic wooden walkways, past fish ponds with fish whose facial expressions reminded me of my cat Aran when he’s begging for food, and through a tropical forest, enjoying the sights and smells of the foliage. The “Sleeping Giant” refers to the profile of the mountain range that lies behind the Garden, although this can only be seen from a distance.
Since the bus only runs infrequently in this area, we walked back from the Garden to the main Queens Road and caught a bus down to the Smugglers Cove turnoff, hoping to spend a few hours in the sun on the beach. A man in a pickup took pity on us walking along in the heat and gave us a lift all the way down to Smugglers, where we enjoyed some sun until a thunderstorm chased us off the beach, into a taxi and back to the ranch.
See more pictures here.